religious buildings on the acropolis. this, rather than the parthenon, was the culmination of the panathenaic procession. at the foot of the acropolis, the ancient agora, or marketplace, sprawls out from its surviving temple. this is where, for 3,000 years, athenians gathered. while the acropolis was the center of ritual and ceremony, the agora was the beating heart of ancient athens. for some 800 years, starting in the 6th century b.c., this was the hub of commercial, political, and social life. visitors wander the remains of what was the city's principal shopping mall and administrative center. exploring the agora, it's fascinating to ponder the world of plato and aristotle and the age which laid the foundations for western thinking about economics, democracy, logic, and more. the stoa of attalos, from the 2nd century b.c., was rebuilt in modern times to house the agora's museum.